Ferries to the Isle of Wight could be run on green hydrogen split off by solar electricity, under options being actively assessed to extend renewable power on the island.
Engineering consultancy Ricardo has teamed up with the European Marine Energy Centre (Emec) to run the numbers on commercial viability for the island’s first commercial-scale hydrogen electrolyser, using excess electricity from the region’s PV farms.
Funding for the study comes from government’s £10m Rural Community Energy Fund. Emec plans to harness its experience from hydrogen trials in Orkney, where it has produced hydrogen from tidal power and has funding for a number of other interesting green hydrogen projects.
For the Isle of Wight, maritime and surface transport are the assessment’s focus, as part of wider work to achieve clean electricity self-reliance for the island. The partners will size-up whether locally made hydrogen could be economically viable for the island’s ferry, bus, rail and truck operators, as well as refrigeration and energy storage applications.
The Island has some experience of hydrogen from solar PV, albeit at small scale.
In 2016 ITM Power installed a pilot hydrogen refuelling point in Ventnor harbour, drawing on output from 26kWp of roof-mounted PV. That year it provided gas for Wight boat builders Cheetah Marine’s world first hydrogen-powered catamaran, powered by a converted ICE engine. The purpose-built vessel completed a 100-kilometre round-the-island sea trial in eight hours.
“It’s great to see the learning from our green hydrogen demonstrator projects in Orkney benefitting an islanded community at the other end of the UK,” said Richard Ainsworth, EMEC Hydrogen manager.
“Our hydrogen projects focus on the generation of hydrogen from renewable sources and the decarbonisation of lifeline island services such as ferries. EMEC is passionate about pushing for a decarbonised island cluster by 2030”.
Alongside hydrogen, ammonia is gaining traction as a replacement for heavy marine diesel.